By Adrien Begrand
The fact that Saviours was formed by former members of Bay Area hardcore band Yaphet Kotto was enough for metal elitists to raise the “FALSE” alarm, but over the past few years, slowly but surely, the band has earned respect, their constant touring and completely sincere, irony-free approach proving that they’re indeed the real deal. Although their High on Fire-style, blue collar metal aesthetic is certainly nothing we haven’t heard before, they’ve gotten better with every new release, 2008’s ferocious Crucifire surprising many with its confident, old-school hesher swagger.
With a third album set for a fall release, Saviours have slapped together a cool little teaser for fans in the form of three seven-inch singles, each limited to 500 copies, and featuring stunning artwork by Tim Lehi. Recorded as demos this past April with Scott Ecklein, the four new songs and two covers aren’t just rough around the edges; they’re positively filthy, that barely-produced sound hearkening back to the glory days of tape-trading, the bare-bones mix enhancing the fierce performances. Simply put, as solid as they were before, Saviours has never sounded this great.
Of the three singles, Acid Hand is the best, the title track built around a stomping proto-thrash riff, drummer Scott Batiste keeping the pace deliberate before exploding into some pure speed reminiscent of Slayer’s Show No Mercy, complete with the ubiquitous guitar divebombs. The rampaging b-side “Slave to the Hex”, meanwhile, is unapologetic NWOBHM, straight out of the Saxon/Tygers of Pan Tang school of thought, easily the hookiest, grooviest song the band has ever put on wax.
Burnin’ Cross is no less energetic, its six-minute title cut centered on Batiste’s gallop and the textured, Killers-esque dual and triple harmony guitars, but the real keeper here is the fabulous cover of Saxon’s “Fire in the Sky”, the band doing justice to the Denim and Leather classic, Austin Barber’s normally limited vocals actually holding up exceptionally well. We’re not too sure what “F.G.T.” means, but the track on the single of the same name is a wicked blast of crust-infused metal, as if Nausea had kidnapped Kerry King 24 years ago and forced him to play lead at gunpoint. The flipside, meanwhile, is an admirable cover of “Running Wild”, from Judas Priest’s Killing Machine, a refreshing breath of smelly, festering air compared to the comparatively mannered original.
Although the forthcoming full-length (due October 13) is in the capable hands of producer Phil Manley of Trans Am notoriety, after hearing these three singles one has to wonder just how a polished album could possibly top these vicious, enormously fun tracks, but knowing Saviours, they might just wind up surprising us all yet again. In the meantime, though, we’ll be blasting these six tracks all summer, wondering why in the hell more high profile bands don’t take this approach.